Meeting new people in the age of COVID-19 can be tough, but the best dating apps can help ease your loneliness. The leading apps have added video chat features that still let you search for that special person, even when shelter-in-place restrictions are in effect. And with some people beginning to emerge from self-quarantine, other features in the the top dating apps can make sure that any budding romances continue to blossom.
But what separates the best dating apps from the rest of the crowd? To find out, we've compared features, reach and the different philosophies of 19 dating apps. Some dating apps excel at helping you find flings with like-minded people while others are more focused on helping you build long-term relationships. Whatever your heart desires, there's a dating app out there that's tailored to your outlook and needs.
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You may notice that many of these dating apps are now owned by Match Group, which in addition to its own Match.com service also operates Tinder, Hinge, eHarmony, OKCupid and Plenty of Fish. Still, each of these apps takes a different focus, as we'll explore below.
If you're ready to navigate a sea of competing mobile apps, here are the best dating apps right now.
What are the best dating apps?
When it comes to finding love in the mobile age, it's hard to topple Tinder, one of the biggest and best dating apps that also enjoys a wide reach. Tinder has a reputation for helping you find quick hook-ups, though it's also geared to finding more permanent partners and recent additions to the app have improved user safety while adding video features.
Other dating apps boast strengths of their own. Bumble gives the power to make new friends to its female members, while OKCupid offers several different tools for finding romance. Eharmony has its famous algorithm for pairing up people, while Hinge's ultimate goal is to get people to delete its app off their phones (presumably because you've found a lasting connection and not out of frustration). Even Facebook has gotten into the act, with a dating service tied to its massive social network.
Looking for a same-sex partner? Grindr was the pioneer in that space, while Her offers a dating app for lesbian and bisexual users. (The gay dating app Chappy, which once positioned itself as a rival to Grindr, has shut down and merged with Bumble.)
Before diving in to find the right dating app to find the best possible mate, don't forget to consider privacy. Don't just skim past the privacy policies of any dating app you use, as those policies can outline exactly what a dating site does with your personal data.
The best dating apps right now
1. Tinder (Android; iOS)
Tinder blazed the trail set by Grindr toward a world of swipe and scroll dating apps. On its face, Tinder encourages you to make shallow, snap judgments about potential partners. You create a simple profile with a handful of photos and a few sentences about yourself, then throw yourself at the Internet's mercy.
The app displays singles in your area. If you like one, swipe the photo to the right; otherwise, swipe to the left. If you both swipe right, you can send messages and set something up. (Interested in upping your Tinder game? We've got tips on how to use Tinder like a pro.)
Tinder continues to tinker with its formula, adding a looping video feature and a geolocation-based Places to find matches who share your hangouts. A more significant change introduced a new Safety Center feature added in January that ties into Noonlight app and provides a panic button in case you wind up on a date where you feel unsafe. The Safety Center addition is a response to growing concerns about meeting up with strangers in real life and Tinder owner Match Group plans to bring the feature to its other dating apps throughout 2020.
2. Bumble (Android; iOS)
Bumble aims to let line up dates or make new friends in your area, even if you're actress Sharon Stone (who says she was temporarily blocked from the dating site when other users thought she was pulling their leg about her identity).
With this app, the queen bee (any female) must make the first move after two people mutually connect and are part of each other’s hive. There’s not much time to waste — there’s just 24 hours to make some kind of contact or the connection disappears forever. For same-sex connections or friendships, either person has to make a move within 24 hours before that connection is gone, though you can get a 24-hour extension.
Just looking to widen your circle of friends, as opposed to relationship? Bumble has a BFF feature for people who are not looking for dates and a separate section for making business contacts. The Bumble Boost upgrade, which ranges from $2.99 to $8.99, makes it easier and faster to meet or date people.
Bumble added video in 2019, giving one of the best dating apps a leg up in the shelter-in-place era. Like the app's voice chat features, video chatting only appears as an option when you've made connections with people in Date, Bizz and BFF modes.
3. OkCupid (Android; iOS)
OkCupid features a massive userbase and straightforward dating tools. But rather than rest on its laurels, OKC keeps refining and adding on features to its top dating app, such as a "Flavors" system that allows users to quickly view evocative flavors of potential matches, such as Kinky Nerds, Beard Lovers, World Travelers, etc.
All this is in addition to OkCupid's messaging tools, personality quizzes, Instagram integration and other old favorites. A premium subscription adds other features, such as refined search tools and the ability to see users who have liked you.
4. Match.com (Android; iOS)
Match.com offers its users a freemium dating experience on Android and iOS. Free users can set up online profiles, upload a few pictures of themselves and then engage in some online flirting with "winks", and have new matches delivered to them daily. More comprehensive features, such as the ability to see who has checked out your profile and liked your pictures, can be unlocked by a Match.com subscription.
Match has continued to add on to its features, such as a Tinder-like Mixer, Android Wear and Apple Watch integration, and the addition of voice and video snippets to your profile. This April, with people stuck at home, Match launched Vibe Check, which lets you enjoy video chats with your matches.
Like Tinder, Match also added a safety feature that lets you alert friends if you're on a date and feel unsafe. Another new feature even lets you set your political views, so you can better find a person whose outlooks line up with yours (or don't, if you believe that opposites attract).
5. Facebook (Android, iOS)
Facebook Dating, first unveiled back in 2018, launched in the U.S. last year after test runs in other countries. An opt-in part of the social network, Facebook Dating focuses on helping you find long-term relationships, not hook-ups. You access the Dating section from within Facebook's mobile app, setting up a Dating profile that's separate from your regular Facebook profile. From there, Facebook finds matches for you based on your preferences, interests and activities on the social networking site.
Facebook won't suggest matches among people you already know on Facebook, unless you use the service's Secret Crush feature in which you can select up to nine Facebook friends or Instagram followers you have an interest in. If they also express an interest in you via Secret Crush, Facebook will match you up.
You're currently able to add Instagram posts to your Facebook Dating profile as well as share Facebook and Instagram stories. Like other dating services, Facebook Dating is adding the ability to make video calls to your would-be sweetie, using the company's Messenger app.
6. Grindr (Android; iOS)
Grindr allows gay and bisexual men to meet up with like-minded men nearby. Profile creation is a fairly minimal experience, focusing on a profile pic, user name, and a few simple questions, and choosing a "Tribe" that describes your type, and then you're up finding other users and chatting them up in minutes.
Grindr is free to use and advertisement-supported, but the premium version, Grindr Xtra, offers ad-free browsing in addition to other features like adding multiple Tribes and advanced search filters. One notable downside? Unlike other dating apps, push notifications for messages require Grindr Xtra.
7. eharmony (Android; iOS)
eharmony is a long-time player in the online dating game, and the first service to push an algorithmic system to try to make the best possible dating matches for its members. Once you create an account, users go through a "Relationship Questionnaire" to create a personality profile that helps match you with other users that eharmony thinks you'll click with. Every day, the app will provide you with a selection of matches and your areas of compatibility; you'll have the option to connect if the interest is mutual.
Premium subscribers get expanded matching and discovery options, and other features like being able to see who has recently viewed your profile.
8. Coffee Meets Bagel (Android; iOS)
Coffee Meets Bagel takes the opposite approach to many of the best dating apps, trying to focus on quality rather than quantity. Every day at noon, the app will send men a small selection of potential matches based on their profile and preferences, and women are then sent a number of matches who've shown interest in them, leaving the ladies the option of reciprocating the like. If the attraction is mutual, then the app will set you up with a 7-day chat window and icebreaker.
A redesign of the dating app puts a greater emphasis on user profiles, giving you the ability to comment on profiles and photos in hopes of fostering more connections between Coffee Meets Bagel users.
9. Her (Android; iOS)
Her is a dating and social network app designed with lesbian, bisexual and queer users in mind. You sign up with Facebook or Instagram accounts, and then view a stream of activity from other verified Her users both in your area and globally. You can Like photos of other users, and if the interest is mutual, the app will link you up to chat.
Of course, it's also more than just meeting prospective dates, with the app offering social features, news and articles about LGBTQ issues, events, questions and more. While the app is free to use and sign up for, a premium subscription adds extra features.
10. Wingman (Android, iOS)
Need some help matchmaking? The Wingman app brings your friends into the loop: rather than writing your own profile all by yourself, you have one or more of your friends do it for you. This even goes as far as the Tinder-style swipe matching — rather than swipe through a feed of possible matches yourself, your designated Wingman handles that,. You’re only really in the loop if your match likes you back, which is when you get a chance to message that person.
Unlike other top dating apps, Wingman takes some of the pressure and fear of rejection out of the picture. Just make sure that you’ve got a friend or two that you can trust to do the introductions for you.
11. Hinge (Android; iOS: $10.99/month)
Refusing to follow the trail blazed by swipe-driven apps like Tinder, dating app Hinge decided to do a major redesign in its app philosophy and design, relaunching with an experience that's intended to be less about games and more about relationships and interesting conversations. In fact, the service's explicitly stated goal is to get you to the point where you've deleted the app altogether.
Hinge turns its nose up at swipes for a more detailed profile that you fill in with pictures and stories. Users can then choose to like and comment on something in that profile, and that serves as a mutual conversation starter. Each day, you can check out new recommendations, as well as see people who have liked something in your profile.
12. Happn (Android, iOS)
Happn is all about the people whose paths you might have crossed who you might find interesting and might also be doing the same things you are. A location-based dating service, Happn shows you the profiles of other Happn users you've crossed paths with, along with time and location. You can like any of the profiles that show up, and if the feeling is mutual, the app gives you the option to connect. Paid options offer the ability to “Say Hi” to other profiles, which includes a notification, as well as the ability to see profiles which have liked you.
13. Raya (iOS, $7.99 per month)
Somewhere between professional networking and a paywall-gated dating service sits the social app Raya. The iOS app originally began as a low-key dating service, but also began to be used to make professional networking contacts and friends, particularly among those in the creative industries. You don't just get in either; prospective members will need to send in an application, which will be vetted, before you're admitted to Raya or not. If you're let in the club, then memberships will cost $7.99 per month, or $29.99 over 6 months.
Download Raya: iOS
14. Plenty of Fish Dating (Android; iOS)
Plenty of Fish Dating lacks the depth of features found in some other apps, but it makes up for in breadth. This free dating app is one of the largest and most popular in the world, boasting more than 70 million members spanning the whole English-speaking world.
Users set up a simple profile, including age, education and profession, then search through potential matches and message them. Plenty of Fish keeps adding small tweaks to its app, including Chat Heads for Android users, VoIP calling for premium users and Instagram image uploads. During the coronavirus pandemic, when people should be staying indoors and away from others, Plenty of Fish launched a free livestream feature that encourages dating over video.
15. Badoo (Android; iOS)
A standout in a rich field of dating apps, Badoo features 370 million-plus users from more than 190 different countries, all sharing their profiles and photos as they search for matches. The app uses a lot of varied means to find interesting matches, from a Tinder-like swiping system to viewing the profiles of nearby users.
Badoo puts a premium on making sure that its users are actual verified people, instead of "catfish"-style scams, with verification methods based on uploaded photos, connected social media accounts and phone verification. While the app is free to use, you can also buy premium credits for $2.99 to increase visibility or subscribe to gain "Super Powers," which provide expanded features.
16. Hily (Android, iOS: Free)
In your search for romance, Hily wants you to put your trust in algorithms. So that you can search for your soulmate securely, the free dating service says it will verify the profiles and ID of everyone who signs on, and it uses an algorithm to block offensive and abusive messages before they get to you.
Hily uses the swiping system so common to the best dating apps, but as you swipe and chat, a machine learning-based algorithm adjusts to suggest future matches based on your preferences. While free to download, a premium subscription service called Hily Elixir promises additional features to speed up your searches and improve your experience in the app for $9.99 per month.
17. Clover Dating App (Android; iOS)
A little bit of Tinder and a little bit of OkCupid, Clover takes a grab bag approach with a variety of ways to find and meet potential matches, from Tinder-like swiping to questionnaires, date planners, and detailed profiles with lists of interests.
Clover avoids the one-trick pony trap of more focused dating app experiences, so if you ever get bored of the swiping style, you can always try participating in live mixers, check out the 20 Questions game, or even experiment with Clover's "on demand dating." As with other apps, Clover has premium tiers that can improve visibility and add or improve existing features.
18. Curtn (iOS)
With its focus on video chats, Curtin seems like it's tailored made for the times we live in, but the app actually launched last year before social distancing became the watchword. Nevertheless, if you're looking to meet people while you're stuck at home, this iOS app might just do the trick.
Curtin relies on video clips for profiles instead of swiping through an endless series of photos. You have the ability to video chat when there's a match, but you can also chat via text if you prefer.
Whether Curtin will grow beyond its initial promise remains to be seen, but it certainly distinguishes itself from a lot of the other best dating apps on this list.
Download Curtn: iOS
19. Pickable (Android; iOS)
Pickable wants to create a more comfortable environment for women looking to meet someone online. Women don't need to upload a picture of themselves or provide a description. Instead, they can just browse through potential partners, messaging the ones they're interested in.
As for men, they don't do any browsing in Pickable — in fact, the app invites them to "chill out." Men can respond to chat requests or glance at a dashboard that will show them real-time updates of whether anyone's browsing through their photos. The idea is to create a more laid-back atmosphere for men seeking a match while giving Pickable's women customers more control over their experience.
How to find the best dating app
You're going to have the biggest success finding romance through a dating app if you first settle on what exactly you're looking for. If casual flings and hook-ups are your focus, shy away from apps designed to help you find long-term relationships. Similarly, if you're tired one-night stands, dating apps that put a greater emphasis on swiping than on matching up compatible people are more likely to frustrate you.
Speaking of frustrations, nothing's more irritating than using a dating app filled with fake profiles. Pay attention to what dating services do to make sure that you're only being paired up with people who are taking things seriously (or at least as seriously as you are.) It's also a good idea to pay attention to what services are doing to protect the privacy of their users.
Since many cities still have a limit on just how many people can gather in public places, it would be good to consider apps that offer some form of video chat, so that your love life doesn't get put on hold during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.